Duke will pay $112.5 million to the U.S. government to settle a lawsuit in which a research assistant allegedly falsified and fabricated data that helped get them federal grants.
Duke University leadership–President Vincent Price, Provost Sally Kornbluth, A. Eugene Washington, chancellor for health affairs and president and chief executive officer of the Duke University Health System and Executive Vice President Tallman Trask III–notified the Duke community in an email Monday of the "substantial payment" that accounts for "reimbursement of grants obtained as a result of the falsified and fabricated data as well as associated penalties."
"It is building upon a series of events—in many cases, significant lawsuits—that have caused us repeatedly to go back and revise and improve our policies," Price said at the Academic Council meeting. "I just wanted to let you know it was announced earlier in the year that we are approaching settlement in another major case."
The announcement outlined various ways the University has addressed scientific integrity concerns, such as a new data management tool, the creation of a Clinical Quality Monitoring Program and a Scientific Management Committee and the appointment of Geeta Swamy, associate vice provost and vice dean for scientific integrity, and creation of the Office for Scientific Integrity.
An advisory panel of three professors—with experience at Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology and Rockefeller University—were appointed to provide recommendations to university leadership to "[improve] the structure and function of research administration, with a focus on promoting research integrity, by June 30, 2019."
Washington is the chair of a new Executive Oversight Committee to supervise the execution of Duke’s research excellence initiative.
All research at the University and Duke Health also now follows a recently developed leadership structure "to provide clear and consistent policy guidance, oversight and accountability."
"To be clear: fraudulent and unethical behavior violates the fundamental values of our academic community and must be addressed. However, we know that it does not reflect the vast majority of our students, faculty, staff and trainees," the leadership wrote. "We are very proud of the work you do every day, and the contributions you make to Duke’s enduring and essential mission of excellence in teaching, learning, discovery, service and healing."
Nathan Luzum contributed reporting.
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Stefanie Pousoulides is The Chronicle's Investigations Editor. A senior from Akron, Ohio, Stefanie is double majoring in political science and international comparative studies and serves as a Senior Editor of The Muse Magazine, Duke's feminist magazine. She is also a former co-Editor-in-Chief of The Muse Magazine and a former reporting intern at PolitiFact in Washington, D.C.